iFanboy’s 2011 Book of the Year: PETROGRAD

Our annual tradition of choosing the iFanboy Book of the Year continues! For the past two years, we have taken to our video show to run down the year’s worth of iFanboy Books of the Month, nominate our favorites, and then name the official iFanboy Book of the Year. With the iFanboy video show on hiatus we’ve decided to bring the process here to the website.

So without further adieu, here is the iFanboy’s 2011 Book of the Year.

 

The Books of the Month

 

January Book of the Month: X-ed Out

If you’ve read and enjoyed Black Hole and wished there was more, Charles Burns finally comes back with X’ed Out, a book that will make you happy, with just as much creepiness and mystery all rolled up in a nice package, with some added comics history metareferences just for good measure that makes for a graphic novel delight.

– Ron Richards, from his review.

 

February Book of the Month: Star Wars: The Dark Empire Trilogy

I was having a ball reading it. I couldn’t get through it fast enough, and hokey dialog and overly lucky plot twists did nothing to dissuade me. The world building was strong, adding in new characters and worlds, and expanding on what had come before in a way that was both new and worked. Writer Tom Veitch took chances in bringing in Jedi characters that would never be used today.

– Josh Flanagan, from his review.

 

March Book of the Month: Orc Stain, Vol. 1

Knowing that everything you see on the page is done by one person, and seeing that the art is so insanely detailed, is very nearly awe-inspiring. More than once while reading it did I find myself absorbing something I hadn’t seen before — like the system that the orcs use to communicate — and thinking to myself, wow that is COOL.

– Conor Kilpatrick, from his review.

 

April Book of the Month: 21: The Story of Roberto Clemente

As I sat down to read Wilfred Santiago’s beautifully crafted graphic novel about the legendary Roberto Clemente, outfelder for the Pittsburgh Pirates, I was immediately transported back to being 9 years old, with my nose in a book about baseball history. Factor in the cross section with this book of baseball history told through sequential storytelling? The 9 year old Ron and the 33 year old Ron have both got a huge smile on their faces.

– Ron Richards, from his review.

 

May Book of the Month: B.P.R.D. Plague of Frogs, Vol.1

If you haven’t, this is the right way to get on the B.P.R.D. train, and even if you’re not up to date with Hellboy, don’t let that put you off. These stories live on their own, they do a pretty good job of explaining what you’ve missed so far. This is among the best in modern serialized comics, and Dark Horse has put together a great package, with a book I’ll be glad to have on my shelves for a long time.

– Josh Flanagan, from his review.

 

June Book of the Month: The Flash Omnibus by Geoff Johns, Vol. 1

There are certain writer and artist teams that just work so well together on a certain project that you can’t picture one without the other. When I think of Grant Morrison on JLA, I think of Howard Porter. When I think of Kurt Busiek on The Avengers, I think of George Perez. And when I think of Geoff Johns on The Flash, I think of Scott Kolins.

– Conor Kilpatrick, from his review.

 

July Book of the Month: The Incal Classic Collection

There was not a page in this entire collection that did not leave me shellshocked and saying “wow.” I think I said “wow” after nearly every page turn, as Moebius just dazzled with every action sequence or setting change throughout the book. As you read The Incal, it’s clear to see just how Moebius has helped to define the Europoean look of comics, as well as influence artists in mainstream comics today.

– Ron Richards, from his review.

 

August Book of the Month: Petrograd

I was a little terrified that this perfect sounding concept of a book would fall flat in execution, or lose the correct pacing, or just drop off a cliff at the end. But it didn’t. It held me all the way through, and left me wanting more. Petrograd effortlessly lays out a complicated, but very possible history, and delivered on every implied promise for a wonderful read.

– Josh Flanagan, from his review.

 

September Book of the Month: Green River Killer: A True Detective Story

[R]arely do first time comic book writers–even first timers who make a living as writers outside of comics–have such a strong handle on the form and intricacies of the medium. Green River Killer: A True Detective Story feels like it’s being guided by the steady and confident hand of a seasoned comics pro.

– Conor Kilpatrick, from his review.

 

October Book of the Month: Love and Rockets: New Stories #4

I haven’t felt this strong of an emotional resonance from a comic book since Strangers In Paradise by Terry Moore. As I finished reading Love and Rockets: New Stories #4, I had to sit back and just take a moment to take it all in and collect myself, as I know that I had just completed reading one of the greatest works in comics for 2011.

– Ron Richards, from his review.

 

November Book of the Month: Rust, Vol. 1: Visitor in the Field

As a first chapter, it shines, taking on a pace that’s both languid and deliberate. Like the endless farmlands and fields depicted in the story, there’s a lot of space and air in this book, and the tone conveys a sense of foreboding and very quiet suspense. Something’s going to happen. Something has to happen.

– Josh Flanagan, from his review.

 

December Book of the Month: Who is Jake Ellis?, Vol. 1

I haven’t flown through a trade paperback like this one in a long while. (And I mean that in the best possible way.) It’s a thrilling and gorgeously drawn action spy story and we don’t get enough of those these days. I need more comic books like this in my life.

– Conor Kilpatrick, from his review.

 

The Nominations

 

Ron:

Love & Rockets: New Stories #4

I’ve wrestled with this decision a lot, and right up until the last minute, I was going to go with The Incal, because the immense importance of that material and the great package Humanoids put together was worth noting. But as I thought about it, there’s really no way I couldn’t celebrate new material in 2011, and who better to celebrate than Los Bros Hernandez. Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez have had legendary careers, but to sit back and read Love & Rockets: New Stories #4 is to see creators at the top of their game.  Jaime’s story in #4 is one that has stuck with me in the months since reading it, spurring conversations with others who’ve read it and compelled me to evangelize and get others to read it. That’s magic in comic books, if you ask me, and for my money, 2011 will be remembered with Love & Rockets.

 

Josh:

Petrograd

2011 felt like it focused more on the issue market than recent years. As such, there seemed to be a paucity of standout and standalone graphic novels, where creators take a story and a subject, and just let it rip for as many pages as it takes. Where many collections and graphic novels that excited us this year wrapped up things we already knew about and already liked, Petrograd stands out as the one volume I read this year that brought me something completely new. I’d been unfamiliar with the either Phil Gelatt or Tyler Crook, but they arrived fully formed, with something to prove, and they proved it.

 

 

Conor:

The Flash Omnibus by Geoff Johns, Vol. 1

Flash Fact: Up until the the relaunch in the New 52 The Flash had been mired–for years–in mediocre to bad comic books. And it hurt. It hurt so bad, mostly because for just about ten years The Flash was one of the best comic books on the market. No question. Writer Mark Waid, and his successor Geoff Johns, built up Wally West and his friends, his family, and his city into something that was fun and unique in the DC Universe. It was special. And boy, oh boy, did this collection of the first part of Geoff Johns’ run remind me just how good it was to be reading The Flash for most of the late 1990s and early 2000s. It was so good.

 

The iFanboy 2011 Book of the Year

 

Petrograd
By Phil Gelatt & Tyler Crook
Published by Oni Press

While so many comics rely on the well of remembrance and nostalgia to excite its readers, the best comics, and the most important comics, do something new. Telling an intelligent story about the details of a significant event in world history is old ground for novels and TV mini-series and movies, but this is exactly the kind of comic book you can lay in the hands of nearly anyone unfamiliar with the medium, and show them what we’re capable of. Petrograd is impressive in every way, from the research and characterizations, to its excitement and action, to the wonderful cartooning, to the package itself. In these ways, Petrograd stands above every other book we read this year, and most from years prior. It should be on your shelf, and the shelves of anyone else who enjoys a good book, and we use the term “book” in the more universal form, not strictly relegated to those with words or pictures or both.

Comments

  1. Neb Neb says:

    Petrograd was such a great book. It was completely engrossing, beautifully drawn, and is a handsome volume. Such a solid choice for Book of the Year.

  2. lifesend lifesend says:

    Interesting. I read about the first fifty pages of this and I was pretty bored, which surprised me, given my fondness of espionage and Rasputin. Maybe I’ll start it up again soon.

    • TomiH TomiH says:

      I’m well into the book and am struggling to stay awake. I love Russian history and Rasputin in particular is a fascinating figure but I didn’t know the main character would be such a non-presence and the Mad Monk would basically cameo in his own book.

      As it is, Petrograd tops my biggest disappointment list (yes, I actually have one written) but that may change once I finish the book.

      Who Is Jake Ellis?, on the other hand is how I like my spy books. Fast, fun and cool.

  3. iroberts007 iroberts007 says:

    Just ordered petrograd on amazon.. 2 seconds ago. Looks like my kinda book. Thanks.

  4. AmirCat AmirCat says:

    O my god, I loved Petrograd. What an amazing graphic novel. After I put it down, it automatically went on my top five GN of all times.

  5. What a beautiful book. That shiny gold foil on the cover and on the sides is so hypnotic. I just want to carry it everywhere I go and be referred to as “the guy with the golden book.”
    If you miss Q&C, then this book is for you.

  6. DrColossus DrColossus says:

    I was surprised that Daytripper never made book of the month, definitely my pick for book of the year. I will make sure to pick up Petrograd though.

  7. ato220 ato220 says:

    Loved this book. Next to Two Generals its probably my favorite BotM.

  8. PraxJarvin PraxJarvin says:

    I can only assume iFanboy’s BoY got someone motivated to buy my copy of it off Amazon. The book was beautiful to behold, but I found it a little turgid. I was expecting early-Le Carre type espionage, and it’s there but it didn’t hold me. There were a few characters who were indistinguishable from each other as drawn, and as someone mentioned above, it’s more an ensemble piece than I had thought it would be. I totally get why it’s BoY, but it was not for me.

  9. I’m surprised this won and Moebius’s book wasn’t even nominated. You want ‘prettiest book of the month’ awards and that would certainly win it.

    I definitely would like to give Petrograd a shot but the reviews have been a bit iffy. Some have pointed out it’s a beautiful book with a great story. While others, some on the comments even, say the art is beautiful but the story is pretty bland.

  10. jasonhart jasonhart says:

    Just now reading Orc Stain – what a fantastic book! Petrograd is on the Christmas list…

    Kinda wish Habibi would’ve been spotlighted too. That’d be my pick for the year, hands down.

  11. I only found Petrograd all right. I was hoping for a period version of Queen and Country but I found it dragged a little. The art was really nice though, and I’m looking forward to Crook’s work on BPRD.

    I think that the picks this year were great to point out books I wouldn’t have picked up on my own (which is my favourite part of iFanboy.com), but I feel there were a load of books that were a lot stronger than the three finalists. Daytripper, Stumptown, The New York 5, Batman: The Black Mirror, Terry Moore’s Echo Omnibus, the Simonson Thor Omnibus, SHIELD Volume 1 (or anything else by Hickman), to name a few, were all far better books than any of the three finalists.

  12. Just ordered this yesterday off of instocktrades so I was delighted when I logged on today to see this picked. The reviews have me a little worried, as I kind of thought it would of been more positive. However, most of my favorite reads this year were recomendations that I got from Josh. Just got a signed copy of American Vampire #20, Scott Snyder shops at my local shop. If I end up liking Petrograd half as much as “Am. Vam.” then I might just owe Flanagan a Christmas present.

  13. AlanRob AlanRob says:

    My vote goes to X’ed Out. I enjoyed it so much, that it feels like SO MUCH LONGER than a year since it came out. I can’t wait for the next part of the story!

  14. kennyg kennyg says:

    I asked for Petrograd for Christmas. I really hope I get it! I also want Green River Killer and Who is Jake Ellis. Maybe I will grab one tomorrow at the LCS.

  15. R.J. Ryan R.J. Ryan (@RJRHQ) says:

    Love & Rockets: NS Vol 4 is not just a high water mark for Jaime but for the medium itself. Nice pick, Ron.